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Friends from university get company cars - I have a tent

Drama teacher Katy Osborne, 26, earned more per hour in her previous nine-to-five administrative job. After qualifying, she went to work at Culcheth high school in Warrington, Cheshire where she earns pound;19,161 a year.

Friends from university who work in the private sector have more cash than she does - and more free time to spend it.

An average day will see Ms Osborne working from 8am until 5pm, often rushing a sandwich during lunchtime rehearsals. Close to the school productions she does not get home until 11pm.

Her one day off a week is Saturday, as Sunday is invariably spent doing lesson plans.

"It does annoy me that teachers are paid less than the private sector, and pound;23 a week is a meal out or a new pair of trousers so it does make a difference, but it doesn't surprise me.

"But I am surprised that women apparently earn more in teaching, you would think it was the other way around.

"It shows there is still a big difference between men and women in the private sector but when you add up the hours of extra unpaid work we do then I bet we don't get more on an hourly rate."

Dave Harvey, 57, has been teaching for 33 years and earns pound;35,000 a year as a Year 6 teacher at Elmwood junior school in Croydon and spends part of the week working as the borough's National Union of Teachers rep.

He estimates he works more than 50 hours a week for most of every term and does not find the reports surprising. "It's been the same old story for some time."

At university Mr Harvey studied accountancy, economics and law and his old contemporaries are now all earning twice as much as he does.

"After 33 years as a teacher my salary just doesn't compare to those of my friends in the private sector. They all get nice perks too, like company cars, and nice paid-for holidays but there is no such thing as a perk in teaching - not even paid overtime.

"Our family holiday for the past 20 years has been in a tent in France. But I probably get more job satisfaction than them."

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